So, there we are – the BMC 1100 has now passed the magic half century. And doesn’t it still look fantastic?
I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that in my humble opinion, the ADO16 remains the ultimate incarnation of the Issigonis vehicular template. Yes, the Mini sold more, but it wasn’t as fast a seller as the ADO16 (5.5 million in 40 years, compared with 2 million over 12 years) – and it was the 1100/1300 that truly stole the hearts of families across the UK, Europe and the Commonwealth.
But as Alexander Boucke recently proved in his epic Land’s End to John O’Groats run (to and from Germany) in his Vanden Plas Princess, the stylish little ADO16 is still more capable of cutting it in modern traffic.
But what is it about the 1100/1300 that made it so likeable? The styling – overseen by the masterful Battista Pinin Farina – is just about right from every angle. The engines are willing enough. The roadholding and ride are superlative for a car of its size. And you could buy any flavour you wanted from a family dealer proudly bearing the BMC rosette on just about every street corner.
If you’re thinking about taking the classic car plunge, and need a useable, serviceable, great-to-drive car that makes you feel good, I’d be hard-pressed not to place the 1100/1300 at or near the top of the reasonably priced list. If you’re feeling anywhere near inspired, take a look at the 1100 Club’s website (after taking in AROnline‘s massive 1100/1300 section, of course), and have a look at joining (in order to get access to the best information, as well as receiving the club’s magazine, the brilliantly-named Idle Chatter).
While you’re there, you could also take a look at Peter Tothill’s excellent autobiography of the 1100…
Of course, I’m still baffled at how things could go so wrong for BL in the wake of the 1100. It was near enough to perfection, and yet, thanks to the hatchback Morris Nomad and saloon Austin Apache, (which combined Pininfarina and Michelotti surprisingly well) denied to us Brits, could have been so, so much better.
Instead we got the Allegro. Ho-hum…